‘Poor team’ Gwangju FC wrote a miracle.
Gwangju drew 0-0 with Pohang Steelers in the final match of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 at the Gwangju Football Stadium on Wednesday. The point secured third place with 59 points. At the same time, fourth-place Jeonbuk Hyundai (57 points) lost 0-1 at Ulsan, and fifth-place Incheon United (56 points) lost 1-2 at Daegu FC. Neither team was able to add to their points total.
Gwangju, which finished the season in third place, earned a spot in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League Elite (ACLE) for the 2024-2025 season. The winner of this year’s K League 1 and FA Cup will head to the ACLE, while the runner-up will play in the playoffs, with FA Cup winner Pohang clinching second place and the ticket going to the third-place finisher. The lucky ticket holder is Gwangju.
Gwangju was promoted last year after winning the K League 2 title. Head coach Lee Jung-hyo earned recognition for his leadership by taking the team to the top division in his debut season. He didn’t stop there, though, as the team continued to perform well throughout the season.
Rather than the usual tactic of playing from behind, which is often used by underdogs, the team has become a sensation with its aggressive style of soccer, where they proactively take control of the game and don’t back down from any opponent. Even Kim Ki-dong, the head coach of the Pohang Steelers in the K League, said, “Gwangju plays very sensational soccer. Thanks to them, we made it to the ACLE. I communicate with the coach sometimes. There should be more teams that play soccer like Gwangju. There should be more teams that defend and attack from the front. I have a lot to learn from a junior coach who is thinking about this kind of football,” he said, giving a thumbs-up.
Gwangju’s achievement is a result that will remain in the history of the K League. Gwangju is a ‘poor’ club in the K League. This year, they spent around 6 billion won on their team budget. This is the lowest level in the K League 1. But even when they faced big clubs like Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai, they fought bravely without being intimidated, and they got results. Gwangju in 2023 is a miracle team. 토토사이트
After the joy of reaching the ACLE, Lee is already thinking about 2024. A solid squad is needed to juggle the Asian competitions, but Gwangju’s conditions make it hard to see a clear leap forward just yet.